V/Gov supports ‘social order’ licencing crackdown
PHUKET: Phuket Vice-Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada announced on Tuesday (February 7) that he strongly supports a coming crackdown on businesses operating without licences, in order “to bring social order to Phuket”.
Wednesday 8 February 2012, 03:02PM
V/Gov Chamroen and officials met on Tuesday to announce the crackdown on entertainment venues, internet cafés, gaming venues and student accommodation. Random urine tests for drugs will also be part of the crackdown.
Officials said there were 257 licenced entertainment venues in Phuket, but just as many unlicenced – usually meaning that they have a licence to operate as a restaurant, for example, but not for entertainment.
Another issue is the island’s zoning laws, with many entertainment venues on the island simply unable to qualify for a licence because they are outside the zones designated for entertainment.
Unlicenced venues, if raided, are subject to fines and may be closed down permanently.
V/Gov Chamroen said he would discuss with officials whether it was possible to look at the island’s zones, to see if they could be adjusted in favour of the island’s many bars and other entertainment venues.
An official from the Phuket Anti-Narcotics Task Force told the meeting that student apartments and internet cafés tend to be gathering places for young people to use drugs, or to buy them.
Officials expressed concern that many of these establishments, too, operate without licences, and they plan on raiding them more often. There are 377 licenced internet cafés and 48 licenced student apartment buildings on the island, they said, but there are many more that are not licenced.
V/Gov Chamroen said that lax enforcement of laws and ignorance on the part of the authorities didn’t help the situation.
“We are talking about a society with double standards [with the law enforced in same cases but not in others],” he said.